PREVIOUSLY: Clarke needs Carrie to talk to his sister Mary about time travel, to help Julie. Luci spoke to Mary about her past.
PART 71b: PSYCH DOUBT
Carrie turned away from the cheerleading discussion she was having with Steve. “Clarke? What the hell are you doing out here, you’ve got a game in under ten minutes!”
“I have to know your answer,” the blonde boy insisted. “Before the game. About whether or not you’ll talk to Mary about you-know-what. Chartreuse said you’d think about it!” he reminded as Carrie opened her mouth.
The head cheerleader paused, then flashed a smile in Steve’s direction. “Go tell the others we’ll be running routine six to start. Laurie takes point, she’s been acting like a bundle of energy all week.” Carrie’s fellow cheerleader nodded at her, then as he went to join the others, the blonde returned her attention to Clarke.
“Clarke, you HAVE to realize this is neither the time nor the place.”
“Carrie, please, YOU have to know there’s no way I can concentrate on the game, not with this foremost on my mind.”
Carrie shifted her gaze to the side, tugging on a strand of hair. When she spoke, she kept her tone carefully neutral. “Okay Clarke. Because it’s you… and because of what you’ve done for me and Julie in the past… I’ll agree this ONE time, to do what I can to convince your sister. But there’s a condition!”
Clarke regarded the index finger which she was now jabbing upwards at his chin, and at the cold intensity of her gaze. “Name it.”
Mary looked down at the phone receiver in confusion before lifting it back up to her ear. “Did you just ask me if I enjoyed your school’s first basketball game of the year?” she asked, mildly amused.
The boy on the other end of the line coughed. “Um, yeah. Kind of a redundant question, I guess… we won, yay…”
Mary chuckled. “Frank – it’s Frank, right?” She waited for the murmur of assent before continuing. “Frank, something tells me you didn’t get my brother to put me on the phone merely to ask my opinion on this evening’s sports event. Though for the record, I was suitably impressed by Phil’s extra three pointer at the buzzer. Despite the team already being up by 10 points.”
“Um, yeah,” Frank repeated. “I guess you would be.” He cleared his throat. “Look, Clarke – that is, Phil – he’s not crazy about the whole time machine thing. And I don’t mean ‘crazy’ as in ‘thrilled’, I mean ‘crazy’ as in ‘nuts’. In other words, he’s not nuts. Really.”
Mary ran her free hand back through her hair, her smile fading. “Okay, well, apparently I’m due for a visit from Carrie tomorrow after school. I’m reserving judgment until then.”
“Yeah, Clarke – Phil – mentioned that to me before giving you the phone. But I figured it couldn’t hurt to have my voice back him up.”
“Noted,” Mary yielded. “Don’t worry, my current theory leads towards something in the water here rather than the need for extensive teen psych testing.” She smiled, though when Frank remained silent, finally prompted him on with, “So what did you want to say aside from that?”
“Um, well, Phil also said you can help people with their problems?”
Mary’s brow creased. “In as much as I can as a university student,” she said warily. “One who, incidentally, is starting to think she’ll need to have a little chat with a certain family member regarding her inflated status among his peer group.”
Mary could hear a slight chuckle from Frank. “Yeah, well, still,” the boy continued. “He thinks highly of you, so I was just wondering… in all those classes you take, where they probably talk about getting patients to discuss their emotions and such… uh… do they ever talk much about… love?”
“Aw… boy,” Mary said, correcting herself from the phrase ‘Aw, for crying out loud’. She moved to sit herself down in the nearest convenient chair. Even after two years of dating Doug, she still wasn’t sure about her own thoughts on the matter.
“If not, it’s cool,” Frank added hastily. “I just have this hypothetical situation, where there’s this guy who’s going out with one girl, and he likes her, but at the same time he’s very concerned about this other girl who’s been going through a lot lately. She has this shady boyfriend to boot, and so while our hypothetical guy likes HER too, it’s not exactly the same thing… yet even with that, he’s still worried about the girl he’s going out with, because now she may be avoiding him and he’s wondering if she thinks that he doesn’t care about her any more because of that other girl. Is that, er, hypothetically speaking, a thing that’s ever come up?”
Mary pondered the multitude to ways she could approach this based on what she was growing to learn about her brother’s friends. She decided to simply be straightforward. “As a matter of fact, I was asked a very similar question recently. Let me tell you the same thing I told that person. First: Your question has no easy answer.”
“I was afraid of that.”
“Thus, secondly, what you need to do,” Mary continued, “is decide what love means for you personally. Think about it. Talk to your friends about it, if that helps. And talk with Luci too, since she may have some of the same questions.”
“Err, how did you know that I was referring to…”
“I took a shot. Relationships are tricky things, Frank. But you’re only, what, seventeen? Don’t stress out over it. Give it time. Things will work themselves out one way or another, you’ll see.”
Frank sighed. “It always comes back to TIME, doesn’t it,” he said after a moment. “One other thing then, could you… well, could you also tell me what Carrie says to you, regarding your upcoming talk about, um, you know what…?”
“Depends on what she says,” Mary replied. “I’m inclined to say that you should ask her about it yourself.”
“Yeah… yeah, okay,” Frank concluded. “Thanks, uh, Mary. Sorry if I bothered you.”
“Not at all,” Mary Clarke assured. After a couple more quick pleasantries, she hung up the phone and walked out to the front hall. “Phil!” she called. “We need to talk! Phil?”
“Your brother went out shortly after handing the phone over to you,” her mother shouted back from upstairs.
Mary rolled her eyes. “Oh, loverly. Where did he go?”
“You did very well in the game,” Laurie said, staring down at the floor. “We’ll have a good shot at the trophy this year, I guess.”
“Yeah… you were great with your cheering too,” Clarke agreed. “I think you were even out-cheering Carrie!”
“Oh. You saw that?” Laurie was unable to hold back her blush. However, when she raised her head, the smile that had begun to appear fled her face. “Except you didn’t come to my house to talk with me about any of that.”
Clarke sighed. “No. You’re right. It’s Julie. I want her to talk to my sister this Saturday about whatever it is she’s going through. But while I think Mary’s finally going to be willing, Julie’s refused to see me. She won’t return my calls, and even Jeeves said he didn’t think he could do anything to help me out. However… I know Julie is still speaking with Corry.”
“So you want me to get my brother to convince Julie to see your sister,” Laurie murmured.
Clarke spread his arms out apologetically. “I’d speak to Corry myself about it, but he’s not keen on talking to me either. Not since he discovered how I’d apparently ‘let Julie close herself off again’. As if there was anything I could have done to stop her.”
Laurie bit down hard on her lower lip. “Why should I help?”
Her words were so quiet that Clarke wondered if he hadn’t misheard. “What?”
“Why should I help?” Laurie repeated, louder. “W-Why should I be the one to fix things with you and Julie?? I mean golly, Clarke, this’ll be the second time I do it, or don’t you remember how I told you stuff about Corry’s plans before Julie’s birthday last year? Which only allowed her the chance to hurt you like this now! Gods, Clarke, I don’t like seeing you hurt, I don’t like seeing what she’s doing to you when she ignores…” The redhead forced herself to stop, swallowing hard. “Julie isn’t good for you, Clarke. Why do you keep going back to her? WHY?”
“Because,” Clarke replied, now unable to meet Laurie’s gaze. “She needs me.”
“Maybe she’s not the only one.”
Silence hung in the Veniti sitting room, neither teen able to look at the other. Laurie finally spoke again. “I’ll talk to Corry.”
“I’ll talk to Corry!” Laurie repeated. “So let me know when Julie needs to show up at your house or whatever and I’ll see if we can work it out. I’m not promising anything, but I swear I’ll try because it’s you.”
Clarke reached out to take her hand. “Thank you, Laurie. I… I owe you one. Two. Big time. I’m sorry that you had to become involved in this way. Really I am.”
Laurie met Clarke’s gaze and immediately turned away, trying not to blush again as he squeezed her hand gently. The warmth in her cheeks told her the effort was futile. Just as futile as all her efforts had been to get Clarke to notice her. Perhaps, she thought to herself, this was a sign that was truly time to move on. “It’s nothing,” she murmured. “Don’t worry about it…”
Carrie sat quietly on the couch in the Clarke’s basement, staring up at Mary. Sizing her up, as she no doubt suspected Mary was doing to her. Of course, the two of them were alone, as Carrie had requested (well, demanded) that Clarke not be present while they talked.
“So,” the elder blonde girl said to her at last. “Time travel?”
“Time travel,” Carrie repeated back, her tone even. “It’s possible. I can do it. I have done it. Nevertheless, I don’t expect you to believe a word of it.”
Mary ran a hand back through her hair before taking a seat next to Carrie. “Look, I’m not calling you, or anyone else a liar,” she assured. “But a claim like that? I need to see proof.”
‘My very EXISTENCE is the proof,’ Carrie thought to herself. But of course, she couldn’t say that. “Then I’ll give you the best demonstration I can,” she stated. “After that, if you’re willing, I would like to speak with you briefly on a related matter. Then tomorrow you can speak with Julie, or not… it’s none of my business.”
Mary offered up a partial smile. “Well, time travel or no, at the very least it looks like Phil’s friends have their share of personal difficulties.”
“Whatever petty problems anyone else has, I can top them in a heartbeat,” Carrie shot back. She felt vindicated to see the smile fade from Mary’s expression, yet at the same time, she also had a tinge of regret for being so harsh. She reached up to tug lightly on a few strands of her hair. “I’ll need a coin,” she continued before she could dwell on the matter. “A quarter or loonie would be best. One of yours, so you know it’s not a trick.”
“All right,” Mary said, reaching into her pants pocket and pulling a quarter out.
“Toss it on the coffee table there,” Carrie continued. Mary did so. “Now,” the blonde sighed, “watch the quarter closely. Please try to avoid blinking… I very much doubt I’ll be able to do this more than once without resting in between.”
Mary shot her a bit of a perplexed look before shrugging and turning her attention to the coin. As did Carrie, reaching her palm out as she concentrated on the piece of metal. Her eyes closed. With effort, she pinpointed the quarter among the infinite drops of water that were flowing through the stream that was time itself.
It wasn’t easy. It would have been simpler to touch the object, but in that case, surely Mary would cry foul. Carrie’s body shook slightly as sweat broke out on her forehead. Almost… there! She had it! Doing everything she could to avoid making her next move a conscious one, Carrie kicked at the droplet with her mind.
NEXT: Killer Conversation. Consider ye olde WFG vote.